Tremendous Team Spirit Results in Win
Andy WHITE inspired Heath 3rds to a famous 29-17 win to scupper Brods' bid of putting another cricket score on the tally. Paddy KERR's side went into the game as massive underdogs after picking up no wins over the last 3 years away from West Vale and almost always returning with a 40-50 point spanking. But the fly-half kicked 2 conversions and contributed with intelligent kicking and distribution throughout the game to give the visitors their first win in Hipperholme for over 3 years and ensure that they avoided a Brods mauling.
Heath went into the clash with a reasonably consistent starting line-up from their previous games, and the prematch talk outlined their need to be resolute in defence, make decisions and do it, and be determined when things were going against them. Surprisingly, Brods appeared to fielding 4 or 5 colts amongst their number. It later became apparent that they wished to go to uncontested scrums, due to having lost a prop. Roger HAMMOND offered to play for them, but his offer was declined. It was highlighted in the dressing room, "it may be uncontested scrums, but it is very much contested lineout, rucks, mauls and tackling". We had a game plan, we were sticking to it.
Heath kicked off down the slope, with the wind and the rain. Almost immediately the game plan kicked in, and the Brods forwards were met with a tsunami of maroon. Wave after wave of Heath mauling and driving left the Brods wondering what had hit them. Eventually Heath took the lead in the sixth minute when Ian Craigen took the ball from the back of the Heath drive, 7 metres out, and with the assistance of the second row powered over the line for the first score.
From the kick off Heath once again dominated the game, rucking and tackling with more determination than the Brods and gaining important territory. From another drive into the Brods 22, Gaz OWEN produced a quick ball to WHITE who then made a slick back-line run-around move before releasing Martin SHAW (BASH) to touch down in the 14th minute for a well deserved try. WHITE added the extras.
Again from the kick off Heath collected and encamped themselves in the Brods half. There was a 10 minute spell of resistance from Brods, which sucked some of the discipline and concentartion from Heath, but with Emlyn JAMES and Gary MOORE galvanising the pack, the plan was put back on track and normal service resumed. Another good ball from OWEN to WHITE resulted in BASH making a probing dart through gaps being created in the Brods defence, releasing Carl GALVIN and producing a fine break down the centre, before passing inside to Martyn BARNES. He was tackled and ragged into touch, but GALVIN had received a mauling as well in the tackle and left the field of play with an Easter egg protruding from his shin. A re-jig and Heath were off again, this time another drive from the forwards saw them within yards of the try line, Lewis FISHER appeared and together with Paddy KERR was carried over and another score was recorded.
Much of the same continued, when JAMES smelt the whitewash, dropped a shoulder, shimmied between the gaps in the Brods sliding defence and went under the posts. WHITE converted the extras.
Shortly afterwards, another determined drive from Heath saw the ball carried by MOORE and he, carrying 4 Brods backs, ploughed towards the line. Brought to his knees 5 metres out an unlucky MOORE caught a Brodís knee or boot, resulting in a nasty duck egg of his own, under the left eye. No option but to leave the field, some sides may have capitulated losing such a pivotal player. Not today. Heath regrouped, responsibility accepted by all, and the game continued. KERR received a good ball from OWEN on the 22, and motored towards the line. Two Brods players decided to try out their version of Karate Kid, resulting in a penalty to Heath. Quick tap from OWEN, to WHITE, and out to John KERSHAW who at speed burst through what was left of the Brods line. He held off three would-be tacklers before touching down in the corner for a quality worked score. Half time was called 29-0 to Heath.
It was agreed by all that Brods would no doubt use the conditions against Heath in the second half and it was likely we wouldn't score another, but we would not let them score, or at least not enough to win.
Play then ebbed and flowed, with neither team able to assert themselves and mistakes on both sides. On 10 minutes the Brods played quick-ball out to the younger and fitter backs, resulting in one lad squeezing through the outside flank and having a clear run on goal from the half way line. KERSH got across and with 10 metres to go thrust out a hand, ankle tapped him causing a fall just short. Travis DENWOOD scurried across and cleaned out the ball, with CRAIGEN supporting him and relieved the danger by marshalling everything into touch.
The crowd had to wait until the 20th minute for the next points-scoring opportunity, with Brods scoring a try in the bottom corner following a determined defence by Heath.
On 32 minutes, Brods attempted a half dozen drives under the posts, which were rebutted by Heath. Eventually however, just through sheer numbers, the Brods found a gap and scored just to the left of the posts. More galvanising instructions were being delivered and with Roger HAMMOND securing good ball in many of the breakdowns, Heath continued in vain to score. HAMMOND replaced CRAIGEN in delivering the line out ball. However, after three throws and compalints from West Yorkshire police that he was causing cars to swerve on the nearby road, he reverted to his old position and CRAIGEN carried on.
With only a minute to go, and tired Heath legs starting to appear, resulting in mistakes, Brods scored once more in the corner. The conversion was missed and the game concluded by the referee Mr LEADBETTER.
A good team win, a great club win, and not only that - a win on the home turf of Brods. The pint in the bar afterwards tasted all the sweeter. Man of the match goes to Andy WHITE, throughout playing good quick clean ball to hand, penetrating runs and kicking to relieve the pressure was only matched by his kicking to keep the pressure in the Brods half. For the forwards, there were several worthy recipients, but Ian CRAIGEN was the popular winner, with his terrier like determination causing him for once to come out of the shadow of his dad, Rick CARTER.
My mum told me there would be days like this. . . . come on the Heath.